Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Ancient Age Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

- $15
- 80 Proof
- Kentucky

I can't help myself. I'm an admitted fan and homer of Buffalo Trace's Mashbill #2, the same mashbill that's used to make some of my favorites: Elmer T. Lee, Rock Hill Farms and Blanton's, to name a few. So, I figured it was about time I give the bottom shelf Mashbill #2 product a try. After all, at only $15, I certainly had no fear of buyer's remorse.

On the nose I got that old familiar smell . . . bourbon. It was that traditional toffee and vanilla with a slight amount of cinnamon spice that I look for in my bourbon. It even had a little bit of cherry to it. This one hit on all points.

When I took a sip the first thing I noticed was the texture. Given that this is only 80 proof, it certainly wasn't a surprise, but this was very watery in texture. It's very thin and certainly did not need any ice.

The flavor, though, was everything I had expected. The cinnamon bit was noticeable right up front. I could feel it on the tip of my tongue. That gave way, though, to the sweet vanilla almost immediately, followed a few seconds later by the traditional toffee and caramel flavors.

At the back end it was more complex than expected. It had a slight orange peel tang or tartness to it, as well as a bit of a burnt sugar flavor which went really well with the orange peel, almost like an old fashioned.

As I made my way through this bottle, I didn't notice any discernible difference or change in the flavor profile. It remained consistent, albeit consistently good, so who am I to complain. This was no knock-your-socks off whiskey, but yet I found myself regularly going back to this bottle for a pour over others.

This is absolutely tasty for the price point. It's not full of complexity or richness. It doesn't have a velvety, oily mouthfeel to it. But it does have really good flavor, more complexity than expected, is readily available and only set me back $15.00. Considering I can't get Heaven Hill 6-Year Bottled In Bond with any sort of regularity, I think I may have found my new favorite bottom shelfer! This one gets a higher grade for bringing flavor at a very low price point.

Grade: B+

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Breckenridge Whiskey PX Sherry Cask Finish

- $65
- 90 Proof
- 3 years
- Batch No. 1
- Colorado

Sometimes my friends at work can be real assholes. Then other times they do things like buy me bottles of whiskey for my birthday, whiskey they know I haven't tried before. Such is the case with this particular bottle. I've had plenty that Breckenridge has to offer, but I never got around to trying this, that is until my buddy showed up in my office one day with the bottle in hand.

When we first cracked it open, both of us had a very hard time getting past the cloyingly sweet aroma that seemed to pour out of the bottle. It was like powdered sugar and artificial raspberry flavors. It was a bit much right from the start.

Hesitantly we went in for the first sip, expecting the sweetness in flavor to match the nose. I guess in this respect it didn't let us down. It is very sweet up front. The sherry cask influence here is anything but subtle. Rather it smacks you across the mouth with a sweet but tart raspberry flavor. To its credit, though, on the palate that raspberry comes across as more of a natural flavor.

The bottle eventually came home with me, and from time to time I would revisit it, hoping that a little bit of time and air would soften the harsh edges. While that did not prove to be the case, it did, nonetheless, improve a bit over time. Although the sharp, sweet and tart raspberry never went away, other flavors did manage to make their way in.

Vanilla and cinnamon started to come through a bit. The cinnamon was particularly noticeable on the back end, after each swallow, a sort of combatant with the sweet fruitiness and a welcome challenger. And the vanilla notes seemed to mellow it a bit. It also seemed to increase in dryness, as though the wood influence was finally coming through.

I wanted to like this. I really tried. Unfortunately it paled in comparison to its older, port-finished brother. I found it relegated to being my second or third pour of the night, rather than my first. It's possible that sherry finishes in bourbons just don't work for me, and perhaps they work for others, but for me, I think I'll stick to having my sherry finishes in my Scotch rather than my bourbon.

Don't let it be lost here, however, that it was nonetheless a very generous gift and I was glad I got to try it, even if my buddy is otherwise a bit of a turd (I say it because I know he'll eventually read this)!

Grade: C+

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Knob Creek Single Barrel Select Kentucky Straight Rye Binny's Selection Barrel #5969

- $45
- 115 Proof
- 5 years, 2 1/2 months
- Kentucky

When I first heard via the interwebs that Knob Creek was going to be doing private barrels of its rye, and at 115 proof, I had my eyes and ears open, looking for the first such bottle to make its way to my area. And this was it! I've expressed my love for Knob Creek store picks for a while now. They're always affordable, always good, and sometimes absolutely amazing. Though it cost a bit more than the regular Knob Creek bourbon store picks, I nonetheless had high hopes for this rye.

The nose was soft and subtle. I had to work a bit to get any notes, but what was there was sweet and spicy, just how I like my ryes! I got a heavy dose of brown sugar with some vanilla notes backing it. But there was also the slight scent of cloves, hearkening back to my high school days when smoking those things was cool (who am I kidding, they were never really cool).

I found the flavor, much like the nose, to be softer and more subtle than expected as well. Although the flavor wasn't bold, it was nonetheless very tasty. It had a lot of vanilla up front, rather than being brown sugar forward like I expected. It also had a kind of custard flavor, not like vanilla ice cream but rather it reminded me of custard pie from Baker's Square, one of their more underrated pies!

On the finish I got a light cinnamon note that I noticed at the back of my throat, as well as a bit of peppery spice that stuck on the tip of my tongue and seemed to linger for a bit.

As those spices faded, I was left with a nice minty note at the back of my throat that was unexpected and very enjoyable. It was a nice contract to cool my throat after the spiciness from the cinnamon and the black pepper.

I can't wait for more of these to come out. This one didn't blow my mind or anything like that. It might have had it been bolder in flavor. But, even with this one being somewhat muted in flavor, what flavor was there was absolutely delicious. It had a great balance of spicy and sweet, with a very enjoyable and complex finish. Even at five dollars more than the store pick bourbons, I still won't hesitate to grab these when they show up. I don't think I'll be able to go wrong with them.

Grade: B/B+